Women’s Track & Field News

In what is sometimes a lengthy and physically demanding season in university sport, success can often come down to peaking at the right time.

And fortunately for track and field athlete Donnae Gordon, she has done exactly that for the University of Manitoba Bisons. After starting the season with a personal best time in the 60-metre competition, it has only been up from there for her, achieving faster results in each competition.

“Immediately, that was a huge confidence booster,” said Gordon.

“There has only been one race where I haven’t hit a personal best. I’m hoping that trend continues.”

Her performance is even more awe-inspiring when considering the fact that Gordon is coming off of surgery in her left elbow from this past September. Having suffered the injury last January, she finished the season competing with a brace before undergoing the procedure.

Throughout the process of rehabilitation, Gordon had to spend extra time and effort adapting her training so that she could continue preparing for the season, while doing the most to ensure a smooth and speedy recovery.

Still, she was able to uncover a hidden opportunity from an unfortunate situation.

“My arms have to be straight on the starting blocks, but they couldn’t be [after the injury], so I have had to work on my starts a lot,” said Gordon.

“I think that’s actually another reason why my races have been getting better, because I’ve been able to hone in on certain things that I feel I’ve been needing to.”

Gordon says it was unfortunate for her to miss the main part of the training season, but that she was able to push past the challenge.

“I made it a point to get through that and be able to get back to where my teammates were and not miss out too much."

And when looking at her history, it is clear the team captain is no stranger to putting in work. Gordon says that she was in fact not a part of any track and field clubs back in high school and she wasn’t recruited or given any scholarships. She simply ran on her high school team, and even had practices as simple as training in the school hallways.

According to her, it was passion and the belief in herself that helped her land a place on the team — and it was her effort that kept her there as she worked her way up.

“I always knew I loved to run,” said Gordon. “I was never winning everything, but I always knew that I was good in some way. I ended up loving it in my first year, and now in my fourth year of eligibility, I’m a captain on the team. I’m really happy that I took that step and reached out.”

Head Coach of the Bisons track and field team, Claude Berubé says he notices everything Gordon puts into the sport. Having watched her grow from a rookie to a veteran leader, he can attest to her positive impact on the team.

“She just encapsulates what a varsity athlete is, that they’re driven, and they want to succeed,” said Berubé.

“She walked onto the team, started training like a varsity athlete should train and showed her leadership skills. When it came time to replace a captain, she was the obvious choice.”

Berubé says that Gordon has also been able to show her leadership through establishing a culture where athletes are able to bond through friendship.

“When you win and celebrate, it’s a win as a group,” said Gordon, who developed close relationships with the 4x200 metre relay team that she has run with for several years now.

“It’s such a good feeling to have these people by your sides and be able to celebrate with them, especially when it's with your best friends.”

As a Black student-athlete, Gordon also hopes to inspire children who want to follow the same path she took, just as others on the team did for her when she started.

“I had some really great role models on the team that are now really great friends of mine, just seeing how their journey went and trying to follow in their footsteps,” said Gordon.

“For kids to know that someone like them can go far and make it, they need to actually be able to see it happen first. An ‘If they can do it, I can do it too’ type of mindset.”

No matter where future members of the team come from, Berubé says Gordon’s story is something they can all learn from, having witnessed her journey from walk-on athlete to captain of the team.

“It shows the new athletes that things can be done,” said Berubé. “You don’t have to be actively recruited into a program, but you can still be successful. The rookies will see what she’s done. She’s gone through the surgery, and everything hasn’t been perfect, but she continues to persevere and is successful.”